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Health Care, the 2008 Presidential Election and Obstacles to Reform. Prepared for: By Gary A. Ferguson, Senior Vice President September 2008. In February 2007, voters said that health care was a top domestic issue for the President and Congress to address.

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Gary ferguson presentation

Health Care, the 2008 Presidential Election and Obstacles to Reform

Prepared for:

By

Gary A. Ferguson,

Senior Vice President

September 2008


Gary ferguson presentation

In February 2007, voters said that health care was a top domestic issue for the President and Congress to address.

Which of the following domestic issues do you think is most importantfor the President and Congress to address?

FAH Uninsured Survey, American Viewpoint, Feb. 5-7, 2007, N=1200 Registered Voters


Gary ferguson presentation

By February 2008, concern about the economy and jobs had rapidly overtaken other domestic concerns. Health care rises in importance with Democrats (27%), wrong track voters (22%), undecided Presidential voters (25%), post-grads (26%), working women (21%), retired women (21%), those without health insurance (27%), and the potential pool of uninsured voters (22%).

Which of the following domestic issues do you think is most important for the next President and Congress to address?

GOPINDDEM

22% 30% 37%

33% 20% 10%

8% 17% 27%

21% 15% 9%

5% 8% 10%

6% 4% 2%

FAH Uninsured Survey, American Viewpoint, Feb. 2008, N=1200 Registered Voters


Gary ferguson presentation

By June, the Economy had become even more important – but Health Care maintained an important place in the issue agenda.

What two issues would you most like to hear the presidential candidates talk about?

Dec. ‘07

(21)

(35)

(6)

(30)

(17)

(7)

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: Election 2008,

June 2008

N=1066 Adults


Gary ferguson presentation

Health care remains an important priority for the federal government

Let me list some issues that have been proposed for the federal government to address. Please tell me which one of these items you think should be the top priority for the federal government.

NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll, Hart/Newhouse

August 2008, N=1075 Adults


Gary ferguson presentation

Health care is an economic security issue and more voters are concerned about losing health benefits/paying for health care expenses than are concerned about having enough money to retire or losing their job/pay.

Now I would like to read you a list of financial concerns that some people have said worry or concern them. Please listen as I read the list and tell me which one of these worries or concerns you the most.

26%

FAH Uninsured Survey, American Viewpoint, Feb. 17-21, 2008, N=1200 Registered Voters


Gary ferguson presentation

Addressing the problem of the uninsured is a major concern for voters.

I would now like to read you several issues related to health care and have you tell me which you think is most important for President Bush and Congress to address.

FAH Uninsured Survey, American Viewpoint, Feb. 17-21, 2008 N=1200 Registered Voters


Gary ferguson presentation

Despite their concerns about the uninsured, voters say that affordability is the health care issue that is most important to their vote.

Which one of the following health care issues is most important in your vote for president?

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: Election 2008

August 2008


Gary ferguson presentation

Most voters indicate that although there are some good things about our health care system, major changes are needed.

Which of the following three statements comes closest to expressing your view of the health care system in the United States?

FAH Uninsured Survey, American Viewpoint, Feb.17-21, 2008, N=1200 Registered Voters


Gary ferguson presentation

Although voters give a low rating to the health system overall and say that major changes are needed, they rate their own health coverage higher than Medicare or universal coverage.

I’d like you to rate your feelings toward some programs using a zero to one hundred scale – with 100 meaning you have a very warm feeling, zero meaning a very cold, unfavorable feeling and 50 meaning not particularly warm or cold.

o

100

0

o

FAH Uninsured Survey, American Viewpoint, Feb. 17-21, 2008, N=1200 Registered Voters


Gary ferguson presentation

Most Americans say that the issue of health care will be very important in making their 2008 voting decision.

In making your decision about who to vote for (in 2008), will the issue of health care be very important, somewhat important, not too important, or not at all important?

Other “Very Important” Issues

87% The Economy

77% Energy

72% Iraq

72% Terrorism

Pew Research Center for the People and the Press/Princeton Survey Research Associates International, August 2008 N=808 Adults Nationwide


Gary ferguson presentation

Few say that they are single-issue voters on the issue of health care.

Thinking about how the issue of health care might affect your vote for president, would you: only vote for a candidate who shares your views on health care OR consider a candidate’s position on health care as just one of many important factors OR not see health care as a major issue in your vote?

(14%)

(70%)

(10%)

(6%)

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: Election 2008

June 2008 (compared with December 2007)

N=1066 Adults Nationwide


Gary ferguson presentation

Health care is still in the mix as a voting issue in 2008.

Thinking ahead to the November 2008 presidential election, what is the single most important issue in your choice for president?

(21)

(29)

(21)

(8)

(12)

(6)

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll Election 2008,

August 2008

(November – December , 2007)

N=1012 Adults (Half Sample)


Gary ferguson presentation

However, sustained economic problems will make it more difficult for Health Care to dominate the issue agenda.

Thinking ahead to the November 2008 presidential election, what is the single most important issue in your choice for president?

Kaiser Health Tracking Polls Election 2008,

December 2007 - August 2008


Gary ferguson presentation

Health Care in 2008

  • It remains to be seen how important health care will be as a voting determinant in the 2008 Presidential election.

  •  Given the economic crisis, health care may be more of a second-tier voting issue. This is not to say it won’t reemerge in early 2009.

  • Health care is more central to Obama’s message than to McCain’s; however, both candidates are addressing health care.

  • Even if a single party controls the White House and Congress, there is no guarantee that health reform will move forward or be successful.


Gary ferguson presentation

Health Care in 2008

  • Many of the roadblocks faced by the Clinton Administration in 1993 still exist.

    • Uncertainty about universal coverage

    • Public aversion to a government-run system

    • Aversion to a large, costly bureaucracy

    • Perceived problems relating to access to care

    • the perception that the quality of coverage would decline for many Americans

    • the question of how to pay for expanded coverage

  • So far, the candidates have avoided the “government-run” problem in their proposals or outlines. Even so, as Jonathan Oberlander of UNCpoints out, there are any number of other obstacles to reform.*

  • *Source: Jonathan Oberlander, The Politics Of Health Reform: Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good Plans? Health Affairs Web Exclusive, August 27, 2003.  Health Affairs is published by Project Hope.


Gary ferguson presentation

Obstacles to Reform

  • Political Feasibility -- designing a plan that ensures access, quality and cost control is not the same as creating a plan with a political strategy that will survive the legislative process.

  • Stumbling blocks: Congress, the President, stakeholders, public opinion

  • Perennial constraints: the structure of U.S. political institutions creates obstacles to any legislation let alone health reform which is controversial, ideologically divisive and threatening to powerful interests.

    • Divided government is common – often preferred

    • Even if the same party controls the White House and Congress, congressional support for presidential initiatives is not assured

    • Members of Congress act independently and introduce competing bills; difficult to reach consensus on a single piece of legislation

    • The internal organization of Congress creates a bias toward the status quo (must survive committees, subcommittees, overlapping jurisdictions, House, Senate, Conference, the President)

    • Reformers have to clear every hurdle


Gary ferguson presentation

Obstacles to Reform

  • Structure of U.S. health care politics – fundamental reform poses a threat to powerful interests invested in maintaining the status quo including:

    • Doctors

    • Hospitals

    • Insurers

    • Pharmaceutical Companies

  • These groups are well funded and adept at operating within the system to block legislation that is opposed to their interests

  • The public: most Americans are insured and generally satisfied with their own medical care and insurance; likely to oppose any reform that threatens to weaken their arrangements.

  • - The public is also ambivalent about government power, suspicious of bureaucracy, and supportive of the concepts of individual responsibility and free markets. This bias leans toward incremental approaches and makes for effective media campaigns.

  • Problems relating to specific proposals – the questions of cost control, access, quality, health IT, bureaucratic control, and taxation will

  • all come to bear.


Gary ferguson presentation

Obstacles to Reform

  • Current political environment – much will depend on the environment in which reform proposals are introduced in terms of:

    • Political alignments

    • Socioeconomic conditions

    • the public mood

    • the 2008 campaign

  • All of these factors are subject to quick, frequent, and unpredictable change.

  • Current climate is much like the environment in 1991 that gave way to an activist health policy agenda:

    • War

    • Increasing uninsured

    • Federal deficits

    • Economic uncertainty

    • There are many differences, however. The coming wave of Baby Boom retirements may exert more pro-reform pressure than in the past. On the other hand, we are still engaged in a protracted war and now with projected deficit spending to skyrocket due to the bailout of the financial system, major reforms that add to the federal budget may be impossible.


Gary ferguson presentation

Pro-Reform Factors

  • Public concern about losing benefits and paying for family health care

  • Spiraling costs and public dissatisfaction with rising costs

  • The growing problem of the uninsured and public attention to the problem

  • Pro-Reform Alliances -- The formation of pro-reform alliances with powerful members (Divided We Fail, Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease) could elevate public debate

  • Provider complaints about reimbursement rates/cuts

  • State Medicaid budget woes

  • Boomer retirements/future of Medicare

  • The public agenda and the importance of health as a domestic issue


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